Wallace’s Career Began To Snowball At Derby
By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
Pensacola, Fla. – Steven Wallace doesn’t yet own the hardware that comes with a NASCAR championship.
But he does have the upper-hand on his father, 1989 Sprint Cup champion Rusty Wallace, when it comes to Snowball Derby titles.
Steven Wallace scored his victory in the famous 300-lap Super Late Model race at Five Flags Speedway in 2004.
That’s a feat that Wallace’s dad and two uncles, Kenny and Mike Wallace, never managed to achieve.
“The Snowball Derby is really a big race for a lot of people,” Steven Wallace said. “I’ve always been really interested in this race.
“My dad used to run it and my whole family did. I’ve always liked coming down here. To win it is a huge deal.
“It’s the biggest short-track race of the year. It’s like the Super Bowl. It’s fun. You can come down here and have a good time. You can race hard.”
A veteran in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Wallace is accustomed to racing against the same competition on a weekly basis.
The Derby attracts top competiton from all across the country. But many of those drivers have never raced against one another.
“I think there’s just such a wide variance of different types of drivers,” Wallace said. “A lot of these guys have never raced together before. They all show up at this one big race.
“They all get to beating and banging and get their stuff torn up. And then there’s tire management. Tires get wore out real bad. There’s a lot of stuff. There are a lot of variables.
“It’s a fun race, but it’s always been kind of a rough one.”
Legendary crew chief Richie Wauters called the shots during Wallace’s breakthrough win five years ago.
The duo hopes to rekindle that same winning magic in Sunday’s 42nd annual Snowball Derby.
“For sure, it helps coming down here with Richie,” Wallace said. “It’s our sixth or seventh trip down here to the Snowball together.
“I met Richie through my uncle Kenny (Wallace). Richie’s like family for me. I’ve known him forever and we get along real good.
“Besides that, he’s damn smart with race cars, especially these short track cars. He helps to make them seem to run good.”
Sunday’s Derby field will be headlined by several NASCAR drivers, including Kyle Busch.
But it suits Wallace just fine to race against Regular Joe Saturday night racers.
“I have every intention of smoking (the other NASCAR drivers) pretty hard, to be honest,” Wallace said with a sly smile. “I think our car is pretty good. I race against those guys every week. They’re cool.
“But I like coming down here and racing with these boys a lot better. I’ve always had a lot of fun racing with them and have got to know a lot of people down here.
“It’s always just a good time to come and race here. These guys are hard racers, man. It’s real fun to be able to race with them.”
– Jeff Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments